Loudoun County Public Schools, the third-largest school system in the commonwealth, was also one of the last in the nation to desegregate its schools, for which the Loudoun County School Board and Superintendent Eric Williams plans to formally apologize in September.
LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard announced on Aug. 28 — the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the School Board’s plans to issue the formal apology alongside a video presentation outlining the history of segregation in the school system.
The video will also explain “the potential community impact of the apology from the perspective of Black citizens of Loudoun who are directly connected to the school system,” Byard wrote.
“Even as Americans drew inspiration from Dr. King’s call for unity and equal treatment under the law, Loudoun County actively resisted the legal and moral requirement to integrate its schools for over a decade, following more than a century of documented inequities between schools serving white students and those serving Black students,” Williams said in a prepared statement.
Williams and the School Board since June have discussed a formal apology as part of LCPS’ Action Plans to Combat Systemic Racism, which became a major consideration during a period of worldwide racial tension following the May death of George Floyd.
Other actions the School Board has since taken include removing Loudoun County High School’s former, Confederacy-inspired Raiders mascot, as well as approving inequity-combating changes to the Academies of Loudoun admissions process.
“Officially recognizing our wrongdoing, taking responsibility for that wrongdoing, and formally and authentically expressing remorse is important,” Loudoun School Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) said in a prepared statement. “Accelerating action steps to combat systemic racism is even more important.”
“We can’t erase history, but we can acknowledge and apologize for this institution’s role in sustaining a system that disrespected Loudoun’s Black citizens and devalued their human potential,” Williams added.
The School Board on Aug. 28 invited the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to participate in the formal apology.
Per the according action item, the Board of Supervisors took several actions supporting the continued segregation of schools in the 1950s and 1960s.
More information about equity-related programs and initiatives within LCPS is available at lcps.org/EquityOverview.
Supervisors vote to support apology
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 1 voted 8-0-1 to support the school system’s apology. Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R) abstained.
Kershner, who sought an explanation on why the board should apologize, said he wanted to see a copy of the apology letter. His motion to table a vote on the matter until the board could see the letter did not receive a second.
“I don’t know what it serves for us to look back 65 years and begin to apologize,” Kershner said. “What other things are we as a board going to apologize for what past boards did? There’s a whole litany of things, and I’m not suggesting one thing is more important than other. And so I think that’s really my concern — not for the spirit of this, because I think the spirit of this is awesome. I think this is exactly the kind of thing that we should be condemning, but apologizing the way the language is put in here, I would much rather support a resolution that says we condemn segregation and its existence ...”
Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) spoke in support of the measure.
“Sometimes, just like individuals or a family admits when they were wrong ... sometimes an entity like a county should admit when they were wrong, make an apology and then step away from that,” she said. “I think that’s why we do this, and so I think this is an amazing gesture by LCPS, Dr. Williams and the School Board, and I am I am honored to be asked to be part of this gesture.”